So my first attempt at recreating the divine brown bread that I tasted in Ireland was a failure >>>
The recipe I tried from Food & Wine called for:
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
I was apprehensive when I added the dry and wet ingredients and found that the mixture seemed much too dry. Despite this red flag, I continued as the recipe instructed, kneading the dough as best I could before placing it in the pan to bake. I even added a bit more buttermilk to try to moisten it a bit. Unfortunately the result affirmed my instincts -- after 50 minutes of baking the bread came out overly dense and lacked the moisture I encountered in the traditional versions. It also tasted floury and almost as if the ingredients hadn't been mixed well.
Next time I need to add something that will give the dough more liquidity, whether that be by more buttermilk or the addition of butter or oil. I will have to continue my research and experiment until I get the ratios just right. Regardless, this battle is not over...